Coleman's Original Calabash Seafood Restaurant is loss to many - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Coleman's Original Calabash Seafood Restaurant is loss to many

Memorabilia saved by firefighters. (Source: WECT) Memorabilia saved by firefighters. (Source: WECT)
Destruction after the blaze. (Source: WECT) Destruction after the blaze. (Source: WECT)
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) -

Coleman's Original Calabash Seafood Restaurant is home to many people. So when it went up in flames Saturday night it devastated the town of Calabash.

"This is my granddad's. It's sentimental," Crystal Coleman Nixon said with tears in her eyes. 

Nixon's grandfather built the establishment in 1940, and the restaurant has been the heart of Calabash ever since.

"When a loss like this happens this is our life," Nixon said. "This is how we live."

The call to the fire department came in at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, and according to Brunswick County Fire Marshal Scott Garner, crews found heavy smoke on arrival. Shortly after, flames broke through.

"I live close by and I heard a noise and I saw the fire trucks," explained Julie Hinkle, a restaurant employee. "I then called the owner and she said 'get over here,' and when I topped the hill all I could do was cry."

Hinkle has been an employee with the restaurant for over 14 years, and just like the Coleman family is devastated with by the loss.

"It's like home to everyone," she said. "I just love it when customers come in and remember you from the year before and you watch their kids grow up."

Firefighters battled the flames for over an hour before they could get a handle on the blaze.  Once managed there was not much left to save. However, they did manage to grab a few pictures and family articles that hung on the walls. Turns out those items were the heart of the restaurant.

"There were mementoes on these walls I remember that were hanging here when I came in here in '94," Hinkle said. "When they brought them out, it gave us a little bit of hope."

It's hope that will motivate the Coleman family to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward.

Officials say the cause of the fire is electrical and have narrowed the spark to the kitchen.  

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